The Turning (Subtitled) (15)



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Horror (2020)
94mins UK/US

Starring: Finn Wolfhard, Mackenzie Davis, Barbara Marten, Brooklynn Prince
Director: Floria Sigismondi
Writer(s): Chad Hayes, Carey W Hayes
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Schoolteacher Kate accepts a position as a live-in nanny to orphan Flora and her older brother Miles. Housekeeper Mrs Grose explains the children are "very special" and Kate quickly surmises that the youngsters are traumatised by the loss of their parents, who perished in a car accident. The new nanny becomes unsettled by the Miles and Flora's erratic behaviour. Kate fears the children are hiding a dark secret linked to the departure of the previous governess.

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LondonNet Film Review
The Turning (15)

Director Floria Sigismondi fails to send chills down the spine with a contemporary adaptation of Henry James's late 19th-century ghost story, The Turn Of The Screw. Set in the mid-1990s, shortly after the death of Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain for no compelling reason other than to deny characters more than 20 years of post-modern horror film references, The Turning creaks and groans with disappointingly old-fashioned spooks. The small ensemble cast, which James described on the page as "a handful of passengers in a great drifting ship", are increasingly lost at sea as Sigismondi adds layers of discombobulating imagery and visual trickery...

The Turning. Copyright: Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures. Caption: Finn Wolfhard as Miles, Brooklynn Prince as Flora and Mackenzie Davis as Kate in The Turning, directed by Floria Sigismondi. Photo: Patrick Redmond. All Rights Reserved.A close-up of an eye reveals a tantalising reflection in the glistening pupil, a creepy movable mannequin sees everything with its piercing gaze and a night-time dip in a swimming pool is exposed as something far more sinister. Dramatic tension should be easy to sustain for 94 minutes - a pleasantly brisk running time for a genre piece. Unfortunately, suspense leaks quickly in the crucial final act as scriptwriter twins Carey W Hayes and Chad Hayes deviate markedly from the well-trodden path of the novella and stumble into a mire of imaginary menace.

Kate (Mackenzie Davis) prepares to turn her back on teaching to take up a position as a live-in nanny in Maine to seven-year-old orphan Flora (Brooklyn Prince). "I'm going from 25 screaming kids to one little girl. How hard can it be?" naively remarks Kate to her roommate (Kim Adis). Arriving at a secluded manor house nestled behind imposing iron gates, Kate meets housekeeper Mrs Grose (Barbara Marten), who clearly doesn't believe the new arrival is a fitting replacement for the previous nanny, Miss Jessel (Denna Thomsen).

"Have you ever been a live-in governess," coldly demands Mrs Grose. "Not since the 1800s," deadpans Kate, an ill-advised reference to James's work that is met with stony-faced disapproval. During a tour of the grounds, Mr Grose explains that Flora and her older brother Miles (Finn Wolfhard) are "very special". The children's unsettling behaviour reminds Kate of her mentally fragile mother (Joely Richardson) and the nanny delves into the history of the house and its staff. As the shocking truth about Miss Jessel is revealed, Kate is driven to the brink of madness by the phantasmagorical denizens.

The Turning surrenders a weak grasp on our attention with little resistance. Davis is an empathic interloper, rippling with fear as Wolfhard and Prince oscillate between vulnerable and menacing, but her rapid descent into delirium is messy and emotionally unsatisfying. One bad dream folds into another until it feels like we're stuck in an infinite loop of illusory night terrors. When the threat to the bedraggled, sleep-starved heroine isn't perceptibly real, nor is our fear.

- Jo Planter

The Turning. Copyright: Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures. Caption: Finn Wolfhard as Miles, Brooklynn Prince as Flora and Mackenzie Davis as Kate in The Turning, directed by Floria Sigismondi. Photo: Patrick Redmond. All Rights Reserved.


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